LOS ANGELES, April 9, 2012 — Ron Paul’s recent rally at UCLA was by any metric overwhelmingly successful. Most of Paul’s events are well attended by fervant supporters. Yet these rallies do not translate into actual votes.
While Paul’s supporters are the most enthusiastic and dedicated in American politics today, they don’t attract new supporters. Most of them are serious and thoughtful about their candidate, but an extremely vocal minority is intolerant of dissent. Some of them also engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Every candidate in the race today has fringe supporters who would reflect badly on him if they were taken seriously. Political candidates are constantly put in the position of apologizing for and disavowing statements made by supporters.
Ron Paul will not.
I have never accused Ron Paul of anti-Semitism. Articles in other publications have spoken of anti-Semitism in the Paul movement, and other observers have urged Dr. Paul to speak up on the subject. On Larry King, Ben Stein referred to an argument by Dr. Paul as an anti-semitic attack on Israel.
A New York Times piece, Paul Disowns Extremists’ Views but Doesn’t Disavow the Support, strongly questions Paul’s stance in his views toward Israel, the Civil Rights Act, and with regard to disavowing the leanings of some of his supporters.
And that is the question here. Some of Dr. Paul’s supporters stop him from gaining firmer political ground, and one reason is their fondness for referring to the Jewishness of financiers and the “New World Order,” as well as their claims that Jews dominate American foreign policy. They do this loudly and often enough that observers like the New York Times wonder why Paul refuses to disavow it. This leads to the question, Is Ron Paul an anti-Semite?
This is not a policy question. Policy and affirmation are not always the same. Policies good for Israel and attitudes toward Jews often converge, but not always. Opposition to aiding Israel is not anti-Semitic, nor is opposition to the influence of a pro-Israeli lobby. At the same time, anti-Semites might be strong supporters of Israel for policy reasons.
President Richard Nixon spoke personally against Jews, expressing anti-Semitism in taped conversations. Yet his policies toward Israel were solidly supportive. President Harry Truman was rumored to have anti-Semitic tendencies, yet he helped create the State of Israel. In 2003, the Anti Defamation League wrote:
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today was shocked to learn that President Harry S. Truman, long regarded as a friend of the Jewish people for his support for a Jewish homeland in the years after the Holocaust, had given voice to ugly anti-Semitism in his personal diary…
President Bill Clinton personally liked the Jewish people, appreciating their underdog status. Yet his policy of negotiating from a point of weakness hurt Israel, allowing Yasser Arafat to launch the Second Intifada.
Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush personally appreciated Jews, with Mr. Bush loving them due to his strong Christian Evangelical faith, and they both held pro-Israel policies throughout their terms. They did this while being unfairly judged by Liberal Jews due to their conservative stands. Liberal Jews mistakenly consider liberalism to be “Jewish values.”
For those wanting to know how policies affect Israel, talk to Israelis and not liberals in Manhattan and Malibu who happen to be born Jewish. Yet policy on Israel does not speak to anti-Semitism.
This brings us back to the Jewish question with regard to the 2012 GOP presidential candidates. Ron Paul supporters wonder why their candidate is being singled out. The answer is because Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are all considered to have affection for the Jewish people, not just stated policies meant to benefit Israel.
There are Jewish supporters of Ron Paul. There are also Jews who support Iranian President Ahmadinejad. The overwhelming majority of Jews voted for Barack Obama and many will again. Paul’s Jewish supporters are like Obama’s in the sense that Israel is not their top priority.
Many Ron Paul supporters insist that Paul’s policies would be better for Israel than those of any other candidate. Supporters of other candidates disagree with that. This is a policy disagreement. How he feels about Jews themselves requires more analysis.
For a couple of years, whenever anybody asked me if Ron Paul was an anti-Semite, my response was “no.” His supporters pointed out that while he does want to eliminate foreign aid to Israel, he wants to eliminate it for all nations including the enemies of Israel. Dr. Paul has also said debate that if Israel decides to attack Iran, America should butt out.
We can disagree with Paul supporters regarding the potential effect of his policies on Israel. Yet the argument that his policy proposals reflect personal malice has been unsupported by evidence. Therefore, Dr. Paul has been owed the benefit of the doubt. Politically, he may or may not be bad for Israel. This could not be known until his policies were enacted, yet this does not reveal his personal feelings.
After years of defending Ron Paul against charges of anti-Semitism, everything changed with an explosive column on December 26th, 2011, by former Paul staffer Eric Dondero.
Dondero does not offer corroborating evidence to the things he says in his column. All we have is his word. Paul supporters argue that Dondero is an unreliable witness as a disgruntled ex-employee. He does come across to me as believable, but that is not enough.
What happened next is what is most troublesome.
To be more accurate, what is troublesome is what did not happen next. Dr. Paul never denied the charges. His supporters and spokespeople did, but he stayed silent. This was a mistake.
When Herman Cain faced his sexual allegations, he issued vigorous public denials. Whether or not he was guilty of the charges is irrelevant. Paul supporters claim that the charges were beneath the dignity of their candidate and therefore did not deserve an answer.
This strategy never works in politics.
Neither denial nor silence will ever put charges like Dondero’s completely to rest. Unreasonable people will attack for a truth or a non-truth, with no regard for reality. But when he question of anti-Semitism has been there all along, a tough stand is called for.
Tough charges of bigotry were leveled at Ron Paul and he refuses to deny them. So does this make him guilty? Is silence always acquiescence? Not necessarily. But what about his silence aobut his supporters? Some of them wallow in anti-Semitism, and Paul refuses to condemn them.
Other supporters maintain that every movement has fringe lunatics, and that it is not his responsibility to say anything. The argue that the issue of anti-Semitism in the Paul movement is an unfair attack and a question for another day. The focus should only be on the candidate.
When the issue of his newsletters came up, Paul declined to distance himself from the people who actually wrote them. His libertarianism seems to extend to not censoring speech within his own movement. It raises questions about whether there would be a coherent voice in a Paul Administration.
Is Ron Paul an anti-Semite? Or is he just unwilling to stand up against anti-Semitism among his own supporters? We shouldn’t censor anyone, but do we have to keep them among our friends? Is it enough simply to say, “well, they have their own points of view?”
Paul’s approach to this makes it impossible to say what his own views are on the subject. It would be nice to say, “he hates anti-Semitism and knows it when he sees it,” but Paul prefers, perhaps for the sake of promoting a diversity of thought, to leave us all in doubt.
I have met Ron Paul a few times, and he seems like a good guy. The next time we are in the same room, when nobody else is around, I will broach the subject.
While Dr. Paul certainly does not owe me an answer, it would do him good to level with the press as a whole.
Disputes about policy should never descend into attacks on a man’s character. The charges will never go away until he answers them. Fringe lunatics will never be satisfied, but reasonable people will listen to him, make a fair decision, and consider the matter permanently closed.
If Dr. Paul does the right thing and deals with this openly, the matter will be closed. He may even get some more supporters out of it, and silence some of his critics.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.
Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
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Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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